Kenya's Most Authoritative Political Newspaper

Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 21 September 2014

STRIKE MONEY SPLITS PORTLAND WORKERS



There is uncertainty on the planned strike by a section of unionists of the East African Portland Cement after it emerged that some of the union officers have shortchanged their colleagues on money given out to incite workers into downing their tools to paralyse the company’s operations.
According to sources, the unionists allegedly received Sh0.5 million to share it out amongst the workers who would be leading the strike on Monday this week. The money, it is said, has not reached the ring leaders of various departments at the company who were to spearhead the strike and who have now vowed not to go on strike unless they receive their cut.

The inducement was allegedly given to the workers by the embattled chairman, Bill Lay, who is reportedly said to be canvassing openly to sabotage the company to advance an agenda believed to be to remove the management and install stooges he can manipulate.

 Some of the disgruntled unionists claim Lay met their union representatives led by Elijah Wakise, Wario Dokale and Fredrick Namale at Sankara Hotel in Nairobi’s Westlands area last Wednesday where money to organise the strike exchanged hands but to their shock, they are yet to receive a cent. Before that, Lay allegedly had met Wakise, Charles Khaemba and Mohammed Hassan along Mombasa Road where another big sum of money was reportedly dished towards the mission.

Lay was that day on his way to Taita for a harambee. He is married to Taita Taveta women representative of ODM and there are even allegations that Lay is an ODM financier. Those who saw him claim he was using EAPCC car for his private visit to Taita to meet his in-laws.
After the final meeting with the unionists, Lay is reported to have called Industrialisation cabinet secretary Adan Mohahmed and told him that the scheme was on course and he would address workers after the strike. Interestingly, there has been no strike notice which betrays the intent.

But why would the chairman stagemanage mayhem in his own company as is alleged? Those in the know say that there is an agenda to remove the MD Kephar Tande and cripple the company so that it can be sold to a Nigerian tycoon, Femi Otedola Aliko Dangote, trading under Dangote Cement that is reported to be grabbing new markets in Africa with billions at stake. The main target, it is said, is the 13,000 acre land estimated to cost Sh60 billion  which the Nigerian plans to subdivide and sell to fellow West Africans. It is claimed that the strike facilitation money is from Dangote.

Ironically, fear that the agenda of the strike is to create a conducive environment to cannibalise the company is making the strike unpopular amongst workers since losing  their jobs will be the end result. The chairman, whose contract expires on December 7 this year, is reportedly panicking after his handlers expressed disappointment with his performance. Part of his assignment was to bring a new management line-up aligned to him to make easy the execution of an overall agenda of disposing off the company and land.

Amongst those he wants to bring in are Rosemary Gituma to replace Stephen Ntei as head of audit department. Head of IT management Isaac Mutua is to be replaced by Charles Kaloki while head of human resources John Kinyanjui is to be replaced by Elizabeth Kimani, who is a junior officer. At the production department, Joseph Kombo is to be replaced by Charles Charo who is almost retiring and had underperformed in the same department prompting his transfer.